Despite Rash Of Injuries Flyers Still Ready For Bruins

17 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers don’t take any pity on themselves, so they don’t expect the Boston Bruins to have a soft spot for them either. Winners of seven straight, the Flyers are without Chris Pronger, Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Erik Gustafsson and Andreas Lilja.

Very close in their rear-view mirror are the Boston Bruins, winners of three straight and only two points behind the Flyers in the Eastern Conference. They haven’t been without injuries either. Zdeno Chara has missed two games with a left knee injury, but he could be back just in time for the Flyers. Not that they needed help.

“They’ve won a lot of games,” said Peter Laviolette. “Since their start when they were off just a bit, they’ve turned it around. I think they’ve won 18 of 22 or 19 of 23. Good goaltending, good defense, four lines. They play fast, play physical. We’ve got to come out and play our game as well.

“We feel like we’ve been doing the right things to win hockey games. It should be a great game.”

After an Opening Night 2-1 victory for the Flyers over the Bruins, it became clear to Ilya Bryzgalov that just because they aren’t in the same division, doesn’t stop the two teams from breeding a rivalry.

“It’s a big challenge for us,” said the expected starting goalie, who has a seven-game win streak of his own. “Also, I think it’s going to be a big challenge for Boston. It’s a big game. The last couple of seasons, the teams played [each other] in the playoffs and I think you can count it as a rivalry, too.”

Boston is coming off a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in which Tim Thomas made a season-high 47 saves.

The Bruins are second in the league (only to the Flyers) in offense, so there will be some extra onus on the defensemen, but Laviolette said that he isn’t concerned about managing ice time. As long as guys like Kimmo Timonen don’t go too far over 25 minutes, things will be fine.

Of course, the reason why his minutes would be so high in the first place is because of the injuries, namely to Pronger. But the Flyers have won seven straight and aren’t thinking about much change.

“I don’t think anybody’s panicked,” said Laviolette. “Certainly, the news of Chris [Thursday], it’s tough but it’s not something we haven’t been dealing with for the last three weeks or however long it’s been. We talked to Claude [Friday] and he sounded good. We’re hopeful he continues to progress and we’ll go from there.

“I don’t think there is any panic. We’ve got a real good hockey team in here. We’ve been able to go out and work hard every night and win some games and put some wins together that has pushed us up to the top and we want to continue to stay there. We have to keep working at it.”

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